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Seeing without knowing: Limitations of the transparency ideal and its application to algorithmic accountability

Seeing without knowing: Limitations of the transparency ideal and its application to algorithmic... Models for understanding and holding systems accountable have long rested upon ideals and logics of transparency. Being able to see a system is sometimes equated with being able to know how it works and govern it—a pattern that recurs in recent work about transparency and computational systems. But can “black boxes’ ever be opened, and if so, would that ever be sufficient? In this article, we critically interrogate the ideal of transparency, trace some of its roots in scientific and sociotechnical epistemological cultures, and present 10 limitations to its application. We specifically focus on the inadequacy of transparency for understanding and governing algorithmic systems and sketch an alternative typology of algorithmic accountability grounded in constructive engagements with the limitations of transparency ideals. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png New Media & Society SAGE

Seeing without knowing: Limitations of the transparency ideal and its application to algorithmic accountability

New Media & Society , Volume 20 (3): 17 – Mar 1, 2018

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References (85)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2016
ISSN
1461-4448
eISSN
1461-7315
DOI
10.1177/1461444816676645
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Models for understanding and holding systems accountable have long rested upon ideals and logics of transparency. Being able to see a system is sometimes equated with being able to know how it works and govern it—a pattern that recurs in recent work about transparency and computational systems. But can “black boxes’ ever be opened, and if so, would that ever be sufficient? In this article, we critically interrogate the ideal of transparency, trace some of its roots in scientific and sociotechnical epistemological cultures, and present 10 limitations to its application. We specifically focus on the inadequacy of transparency for understanding and governing algorithmic systems and sketch an alternative typology of algorithmic accountability grounded in constructive engagements with the limitations of transparency ideals.

Journal

New Media & SocietySAGE

Published: Mar 1, 2018

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